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Global Show and Tell: A collaboration between Grade 6 schools in

Trinidad and Tobago and Canada about Experiential Outdoor Learning

Design Project Proposal - ETEC 510

Jenna Adema, Brendan Clark, Craig Ferguson, Janadi Gonzalez

and Monique Waters

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This project will allow Grade 6 students in two (2) different countries Trinidad & Tobago

and Canada - to share their observations about their local vegetation.

There are key issues facing this age group in both countries. There has been an increase

in obesity in this age group in Trinidad and Tobago (Mitchell, 2011). Similarly, one out of every

four children aged 2 17 are overweight or obese in BC (Heart and Stroke Foundation, 2013). In

PISA 2012 report, Canada has one of the highest scores for student performance in Science;

however, problem-solving ability with the lowest performing students was one of the lowest of

the participating countries (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD),

2012). Trinidad and Tobago did not participate in PISA 2012; however, the reading and science

scores in PISA 2009 was significantly below that of OECD mean score (Organization for

Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), 2010). There is less global awareness in

some Canadian classrooms than anticipated (Ashun, 2004) while environmental awareness in

students in Trinidad and Tobago can improve through environmental education (Ariasingam,

2001). These findings suggest that the educational design of this project for the targeted students

should attempt to increase the physical activity of the students while improving problem-solving

and reading abilities as well as cultural and global environmental awareness.

Several theories underpin this projects objectives - social constructivist theory, 21st

century learning and experiential learning.

Social constructivism, introduced by Piaget and Vygotsky, suggests that reality,

knowledge and learning is socially constructed (Derry, 1999). Students who live in very different

climates will live varied realities based on geo-cultural limitations. Constructing knowledge

between these two groups requires bridging of cultural, geographical and language barriers

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through social interaction. It will also require to extend learning beyond the individual based on

collaboration which necessitates social interaction (Beetham, 2013).

Educational media tools such as blogs are based on social constructivist theory as

personal construction of knowledge is emphasized. Blogs can act as a community diary and

allow students to share their insights about a particular topic (Lucking, Christmann, & Wighting,

2009). This in turn may increase global and cultural awareness for both groups.

Six of the nine lessons for 21st century learning are covered in this project (Saavedra &

Opfer, 2012). Encouraging students to document the local flora in their environment increases

the relevance to students lives; blogging and skyping with students from another country

encourages learning transfer and teamwork development and promotes critical thinking (Duffy &

Bruns, 2006) while the creation of a digital stories develops thinking skills, exploits technology

to support learning and fosters creativity. Focus on these 21st Century lessons improves

problem-solving skill concerns.

Educational media tools such as digital storytelling, video creation and blogs link

naturally to 21st Century learning. Digital media storytelling is short stories made by recording

narrative and combining it with images (still or moving) with music or other sounds (Wilson,

n.d.). Research in digital media storytelling in science is still fairly new; however, one

Singaporean study found that the use of digital storytelling in the science curriculum provided

disruptive innovation to the classroom (Tan, Lee, & Hung, 2014). This is important especially

for increasing engagement in science in the Grade 6 classroom in Trinidad and Tobago.

Experiential learning occurs when the learner is actively involved and process learning

cognitively, affectively and behaviourally (Gentry, 1990). This project requires students to be

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actively involved in documenting, photographing and researching their natural environment.

Additionally, childrens creativity benefits from interactions with nature (Holloway & Mahan,

2012). This focus could address the physical activity concern outlined previously.

Intentions and positions

The Global Show and Tell learning environment design is built upon experiential,

collaborative and constructivist learning. Using technology, students will experience the outdoor

environment, collect their own data, and then collaborate to construct and share their findings

with students living in another part of the world. This mix of theoretical approaches to learning

is intended to create a unique learning environment with a number of goals. The broad aim of

the design is to allow students from two different countries to acquire knowledge about their

relevant ecosystems and then learn through collaboration using educational technology. The

various stages and tools of the design intend to achieve a number of more specific goals as

students experience the learning environment. One intention of the design is to enhance

motivation and enjoyment of learning through experience.

Experiential learning is a critical component of outdoor education pedagogy (Gillett,

2011). Experiencing the outdoors enhances motivation by allowing students to use all of their

senses to build a relationship with their natural surroundings. As students explore their local

environment, connections are made to larger and possibly global environmental issues; the

personal and meaningful are then connected to the big picture. The design is intended to

increase engagement by allowing students to make personal and meaningful connections to their

learning. Enjoyment of learning depends on the individual, yet Halloway (2012), explains that

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the outdoors and students are a natural combination; nature provides the ability to explore and

can often provide students with inspiration for creativity.

The design includes the use of technology in order to allow students to capture their

findings in the outdoors and then collaborate, create artifacts, share, and reflect. By using

collaboration, the learning environment aims to further engage students in their learning.

Creating a social component to the design intends to make students accountable to each other

and in turn, encourage participation. By allowing students to learn from each other through face

to face and collaborative online tools, the design also aims to cause a deeper and broader

understanding of the environmental issues and ecosystems of both countries. Since the design

includes collaboration between two distinct sets of students from different parts of the world, the

social aspect of the design also aims to encourage global environmental awareness and

citizenship.

Through the construction of publicly shared artifacts, the design aims to encourage

students to take part in global environmental discourse. By allowing students to contribute their

experiences and research publicly, the educational design intends to allow students to explore a

purposeful and meaningful endeavour, create a personal emotional investment and understand

the concept and importance of global citizenship. In Using Participatory Media and Public Voice

to Encourage Civic Engagement (2008), Rheingold explains that encouraging participatory

education by using web publication is an opportunity for students to turn self expression into

public opinion and the freedom to do so is an important part of democratic governance (p.101).

By including the development and sharing of a digital artifact, the design intends to encourage

public participation as well as critical thinking and reflection.

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The constructivist component of the instructional design includes the collaborative effort

of students to create, share, and reflect on their own and other students digital artifacts.

Collaboratively creating interpretive signs, blogs and videos requires critical judgment of both

content and creative decisions. By encouraging students to use technology to share and reflect

on the digital artifacts created, the design aims to enable students to revisit and remake their

creations using the advice and judgments of their peers and in turn offer constructive feedback to

others. Poling (2005) found that using collaborative blogs in this manner lead to increased

engagement and excitement as the number of collaborating students increased.

The combination of outdoor experiential learning and online constructive collaboration

allows the design to expect to accomplish a number of diverse goals. The number of goals and

broad range of aims also opens up the design to a number of criticisms regarding these outcomes.

Jenkens (2009) explains a number of general concerns regarding using new media and

technology in education. The author warns that simply giving new technology to students to use

is not sufficient to expect positive results (p.17). When specifically considering online

collaboration, Ortiz (2012) also explains that even after educators provide time and instruction

on how to use online tools, a significant number of students often still feel uncomfortable

participating in online collaborative communities (p.145). The number of students and potential

diversity, considering participation of classes from different parts of the world, is another area of

concern. Ortiz (2012) also found that online group work was more accessible to certain learners

and many less outgoing students are typically apprehensive initially (p. 144). Beyond the

technical roadblocks to the designs outcomes pointed out by educational scholars, politics may

prevent the learning environment from accomplishing its environmental and public citizenship

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goals. Garcia and Morrell (2013) explain that despite the potential of new media to give voice to

young people, there are often barriers created by school policy and social norms (p. 126).

The combination of outdoor and technology education can be viewed philosophically as

at odds with each other. Arnone (2002) summarizes the work of a number of notable thinkers

including Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Kierkegaard to argue that online learning disregards the

important connection between the mind and the body, a concept that is central to experiential

outdoor learning. The Global Show and Tell design aims to demonstrate that technology and

outdoor education can be complementary, allowing various types of learners to find meaning

through experience and then share and reflect with peers.

Key Concepts and Contexts

This project has three overarching knowledge foci: understanding of the environment,

using technology to present and share information, and cross-cultural exchange and

understanding. The project takes place over three distinct phases: gathering the information,

creating the interpretive signs, and sharing, each with its own distinct sub-focuses.

During the Gathering the information phase, student knowledge and skill acquisition will

focus on research skills, technology skills, and developing an understanding of local plants and

the environment. This project requires students to go out into nature and select a tree or plant to

focus on. They are then asked to identify the plant through the use of a commercially available

smartphone app and conduct additional resources on the biological characteristics, human uses,

and conservation status of the plant, recording their findings in a systematic way.

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When students are ready to move on to the Creating signs phase, research and technology

skills are still part of the focus, but they are joined by writing skills, organizational skills, and

skills related to the presentation of information. Here, after analysing their information, they are

asked to select the most pertinent for inclusion in their interpretive signs. Then, students are

afforded the opportunity to develop their writing and data presentation skills when they plan out

how their signs will look and how theyll convey the necessary information. Throughout this

phase, students will be asked to learn and hone a variety of skills related to technology, including

the use of digital cameras, microphones, and video editing software to create a multi-media

component for their signs, and to plan how the final version of their sign will be developed.

Because this phase incorporates many smaller steps and requires a high level of planning to

ensure that schedules are met and technology and content are complimentary, students will have

to work on their organizational skills and become familiar with the planning and management of

a complex project.

In the final phase, sharing, students will focus on technology skills while they gain an

understanding of environmental issues affecting other parts of the world and make connections

with students in other countries.

Relevant scholarship discusses the use technology in an outdoor learning environment

with a focus on digital storytelling, chiefly Agelidou and Kordaki (2010) who look at a similar

project involving water, Shoemakers 2014 work on digital storytelling in Alaska, Cantrell and

Knudson (2006) who studied the use of technology for environmental field research, Kordaki

(2014) who provides a methodology for digital storytelling, and Coulter (2008) who describes

uses of cameras in outdoor education. Also of interest is scholarship related to cross-cultural

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interaction and school-pairing, especially the 2008 Alberta Guide to International School

Partnerships.

This project is contextualized by differing school systems and levels of environmental

awareness. It must fit into the requirements of both the Trinidadian school system, with its

emphasis on preparing young people for the standardized Secondary Entrance Assessment

(SEA), and that of Canada, with its province-specific prescribed learning outcomes.

Additionally, students in each country will be coming to this project with differing knowledge

levels of environmental issues, which must be factored into the distribution of instruction.

Scholarship that will be relevant to meeting the challenges and opportunities of this

context includes the province of British Columbias Grade 6 Specific expectations (Ministry of

Education British Columbia, 2005) and the primary science curriculum for Trinidad and Tobago

(Ministry of Education of Trinidad and Tobago 2006).

Interactivities

The main project requires small groups from both Canada and Trinidad and Tobago to

create interactive interpretive signs showcasing a local plant or tree. The sign will include a

name, description, habitat, current and native medicinal and food uses, and any ecological

implications related to the plant. Information is to be presented as text with a video component.

The video can be accessed digitally by a hyperlink and with a QR code on hard copies. Upon

completion of the project, a show and tell through video chat would permit groups from both

Canada and Trinidad and Tobago to compare and contrast their ecosystems. A reflective

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component will allow students to consider what they have learned about collaboration,

communication and different ecosystems.

Blog: Activities and technologies have been chosen to facilitate collaboration, global

awareness, communication and reflection. A blog will be the main collaboration and

development platform. Depending on the age group and needs of the class, some possible options

include Kidblog, Wordpress or Blogger. This space will permit small groups to document their

collaborative endeavour, including successes and frustrations. The ability to publically share the

process, permits others to offer suggestions and add personal insights. This adds another layer of

collaboration.

Apps: During the research process for the creation of the interpretive sign, there are

several apps that can be used for the identification of plants. Some apps allow the user to take a

photo to identify the specimen. Other resources have databases of plants along with photos and

relevant information. Phones, tablets or other portable electronic devices can be used to support

this technology. Examples of nature apps include Project Noah, Wild Edibles, iPlant with

Brigitte Mars, North American Plant Scientific Reference, and Mobile Educator: Flowers 101.

Video: Audio and visual components can be integrated through the addition of a video.

Students may choose to film and narrate the location, description and key ecological features of

their chosen plant. Other formats could include still photos to create a stop motion artifact with

an audio track. Possible programs for the creation of the video include Explain Everything,

Animoto, Powtoon, Videolicious and Videoscribe. This information can be added to the

interpretive sign by hyperlink and QR code. QRStuff or Kaywa are two examples of QR code

generators.

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Video chat: Skype and Google Hangout are two inexpensive options to facilitate a video

chat between students in Canada and Trinidad and Tobago. This allows participants to discuss

their experiences and ask questions about their respective environments in real time. This is

valuable as students do not have to wait for a response to questions and face-to-face interactions

permit body language and facial expressions to become a part of communication and

interpretation.

Reflection: A final summative blog entry permits participants to reflect on the process

from start to finish. This includes design choices, group dynamics, successes and failures, and

global perspectives. As the blog will be used through the entire project, it can be a source of

information during reflection and serves to document the learning journey.

Verifications

The intended goal of Global Show and Tell is to allow students from two different

ecosystems, Trinidad and Canada, to acquire knowledge of vegetation of the relevant ecosystem.

Student knowledge base will be evaluated using a variety of summative and formative

assessments. Summative Assessments summarizes student development at a particular time

Wikipedia (2014). However, summative assessments alone are an insufficient indicator of

student knowledge. Formative assessments are a range of formal and informal assessment

practices used throughout the learning process in order to modify learning activities Wikipedia

(2015).

Summative assessments will come in the form of a short quiz and questionnaire. Students

will have a quiz to test plant knowledge, as learned through the Interpretive Sign Assignment,

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ensuring all students have a basic understanding of their respective ecosystems. At the end of the

unit, students will engage in an Class On-line Discussion regarding the knowledge learned, a

final questionnaire will be used as an assessment tool gauging student achievement. Flubaroo

will be a useful tool used to create questionnaires, track student marks and progress and Poll

everywhere will be used as an interactive questionnaire (see external links).

Formative assessments include journaling, storytelling, and discussion; it will require

several forms of evaluation tools such as: observation, peer/self evaluations and rubrics. With

the use of participatory media traditional formative assessments will come in the form of Blog

journals, digital storytelling, and on-line discussions.

A blog is defined as a web page that is updated frequently, with the most recent entry

displayed at the top of the page Yang (2009). According to Yang (2009), blogging is an

effective reflective tool as teachers can continually assess student progress and work over a

period of time. The Class Blog Journaling Assignment will assess student knowledge learned as

they post reflective comments to peers. A useful tool for identifying student learning is through

the use of observation, self evaluations and rubrics. A rubric, created through Rcampus, will be

used to mark and guide students for the Class Blog, Digital Film, and On-line Discussion

Assignments (see external links). Digital Film and Discussion is a form of storytelling.

Storytelling and discussion according to Shoemaker (2014) is an effective method for evaluating

knowledge as it has been used for generations to pass down knowledge in traditional cultures..

The Digital Storytelling Film is evidence of student knowledge learned. Evaluation tools such as

self/peer evaluations and rubric will be used. Discussions will also serve as an effective

formative assessment. The On-line Discussion will be a non-threatening way for the teacher to

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make observations about what knowledge was taught and learned by students. Observational

tools and peer/self evaluations will be also be used.

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External Links:

http://www.flubaroo.com/flubaroo-user-guide#step4 (quiz creating and marking)

http://www.rcampus.com/indexrubric.cfm (online assessment tools primarily rubric)

http://www.polleverywhere.com/?utm_campaign=Listly&utm_medium=list&utm_source=li
stly (on line survey tool)

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